Throughout England there are parish, town, community and neighbourhood councils (local councils) who work towards improving community well-being and providing better services at local level. They are the tier of local government below the level of district, borough or unitary council and are the tier closest to the people.
What are local councils?
There are around 9,000 local councils across England. They form the most local level of government and cover many rural and urban areas. There are no differences between parish and town councils. They have the same powers and can provide the same services.
What services do they provide?
The Parish Council is consulted by the planning authority on all developments affecting the village and responds to all applications. The Councils adopted policy is one of conserving the Parish as a village and this has been documented in the Parish Plan that has been adopted by the local planning authority as a material consideration for planning applications in the village. Further information on planning can be found on the North Devon District Council website.
The Parish Council has the right to be consulted on many local and national government issues and provides a local perspective in responses to consultation requests.
The Parish Council monitors and maintains the footpaths through the fields within the Parish.
Grants towards maintenance are made to the local Church Authorities on an annual basis.
Activities are publicised via the Parish Council notice board, this web site and in local newspapers.
Security consideration including liaison with the local Constabulary and Police Authority is a regular activity of the Parish Council. Members of the Public are welcome to come to any Parish Council meeting and discuss any matters of concern. The local police can be contacted by dialling 101 for non-urgent matters, and 999 is the number to dial for emergencies.
Where do they get their money from?
Each year a sum of money called a 'precept' is collected through your council tax. This money is invested back into your community by the local council to improve facilities and services for you and your neighbours. Local councils can also apply for grants and loans, and can receive money from rents or leases if they own assets/property.
How to they make decisions?
A local council is made up of councillors who meet regularly to make decisions on the work and direction of the council. As elected bodies local councils are responsible to the people they represent. Attending a council meeting is the best way to find out what they do.
How are councillors elected?
Councillors are elected for four year terms. They are elected by people who live in the area. The most recent elections took place in 7 May 2015. Councillors represent a geographical area known as a ward, although in some small parishes they represent the whole parish.
What do councillors do?
Councillors have three mains areas of work:
Decision making - through attending meetings and committees with other councillors and deciding which activities to support, where money should be spent and what services should be delivered.
Monitoring - councillors should make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services.
Getting involved locally - as local representatives councillors have a responsibility towards their constituents and local organisations. This varies depending on the amount of time the councillors has and what they hope to achieve.